Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Red Elvises at Fitzgerald's, Berwyn, IL (2001)

April 10th, 2001
By Rick Vaughn

(come on, all you Svengoolie fans out there; let me hear you say, "BERRRRRWYYYYNNNN???") lol

Hello all,

As this is my first RE concert review, I should probably start at the beginning... My first introduction to the guys was a copy of "Bellydance" sitting on someone's desk at work. Needing some tunes during a long evening, I popped in the disc, thinking it wouldn't be any good. Boy was I surprised! The production values and musicianship as well as their sense of humor made me an instant fan.

(c)1998 by Red Elvises

Fast forward to April 2001; I cross the parking lot at Fitzgerald's and parked in front of the entrance is a huge red van with a Russian guy named Igor rummaging through suits in the back. "We start in a little while", he tells me. "I'm just choosing my clothes for the evening." Inside on the stage two more guys work at setting up a drum kit, microphones, amplifiers and proceed to do a soundcheck. "There is too much feeding back", Oleg tells the sound man from behind the drums. "Something is too high." An audience of maybe 50 or so people cluster around tables with beer and popcorn, waiting expectantly for the show to begin. "How's the popcorn?" asks Zhenya from the stage. "I may get some later."

During the first part of the set, most of the audience stayed seated. Maybe that's because this is a working class suburban Chicago audience and it's the middle of the week. Maybe it's because last time the Reds played this stage they had an opening act, the very good local band Satya Graha (go to for more info). Maybe no-one knew what to make of the new 3-piece lineup. So midway through the set Zhenya Rock (his official name, it's on his license!) told the crowd, "If you like to sit down, that's OK. But for those who like to dance, the dance floor is right up here!". A good number of us proceeded to the front to dance and drink like maniacs (I'm still tired and hungover). At one point, when Igor asked everone to show their beer, one man near the bar yelled "I have teqila!" to which Oleg responded, "Tequila, it does the body good!".

Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

Here's the setlist, which I managed to scribble on a bar napkin during the set.

1) Welcome To The Freak Show
2) San Antone
3) She's Running Away
4) Who's Your Daddy?
5) It's Over Now
6) I'll Be Back
7) Scorchi Chornye
8) Three Alley Cats
9) Telephone Call From Istanbul
10) Rocketman
11) I Wanna See You Bellydance

During the intermission, Zhenya wandered over to my table with beer and popcorn and was instantly enraptured by a Bulgarian girl sitting at the table who had only been in the US for one week. Oleg and Igor had to send Mr. Fabulous to pry him from their English-Russian-Bulgarian conversation for the second set.

12) Groovin' To The Moscow Beat
13) Gypsy Heart
14) Red Lips, Red Eyes, Red Stockings
15) Kegga Beer And Potato Chips
16) Bedroom Boogie
17) Not That Kind Of Guy
18) Please Don't Tell Me What I Did Last Night
19) Susanna
20) Strip Joint Is Closed
21) Sad Cowboy Song

Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

22) Lovepipe
23) (I don't know the title, the "Where the F*** are you? song) (Juliet)
24) Voodoo Doll (my request, thanks Z!)

Afterwards I had a talk with Igor, Jackdaw & Ron (whose custom decal'ed car the band signed afterwards) and my new friend Alma mostly about web pages and bad movies... including "Leningrad Cowboys" (RE's real story, Igor tells me); "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which he still hasn't seen but I'm sending him a copy of; "Blues Brothers", which Igor learned his English from!

Photo by Jackdaw. Taken at Fitzgeralds, in Berwyn, IL on April 10, 2001

Driving me to the "L" that night, my friend pulled into the Wendy's drive through and the Red Elvises' van was right in front of us! She yelled into the intercom, "TELL THOSE GUYS IN THE VAN THEY ROCK!!!" (which the drive-thru girl did, by the way).

I tried to call in sick today to catch the second show at the Elbo Room, but my boss wouldn't hear of it... I got off work at 11:00 p.m. and rushed straight up to the Elbo Room- just in time for the intermission! A lot of folks from the night before were there, as was Megan, whose bellydancing routine earlier in the set I had missed. Last year when I met her she was wearing these cool red leather pants. This year she had a blue pair on.

The band started their second set and played some tunes they hadn't the previous night, like "Girl From Malibu", "Boogie On The Beach" and some others (I guess I was having too much fun to remember what they were).

After the show someone decided it would be a great idea if we all went to the Green Mill (Al Capone's old hangout as well as John Cusack's in "High Fidelity"). No one in the band was too sure what that was until someone else mentioned that it was Tom Waits' kind of bar and that settled it. I didn't have a ride so Oleg told me to get in the "captain's seat" (i.e. I rode "shotgun"). I could tell the guys were tired and hungry and probably wanted to just eat something and collapse so I suggested the possibility of Chinatown. Oleg kept saying, "Yeah, let's just ditch everyone and go to Chinatown!" (about 5 or 6 different times, while playing with a bass fish pillow and jamming out to Midnight Oil on the radio). Crossing the street outside the bar, someone pulled up to the intersection blasting hip-hop and I heard Igor say, "Awww, yeeeaaahh".. Kind of made me wonder if their next album's gonna be Russian gangsta rap.

Photo by Rick, taken on a cellphone in 2005.

Chicago bouncers are a mean lot and the Green Mill's doorman turned away a few in our group for being either underage or not having ID's (including the girl hanging out with Zhenya). So we all stumbled back onto the sidewalk. Oleg, not to be deterred from having a good time grabbed Igor's shoulder and pointed at a sign in the near distance. "Look!" he said, loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, "It's the Thailand Food Corporation!" Meanwhile Zhenya set up a camera on a street lamp and proceeded to try to take a group photo.

Oleg from the Red Elvises nearly woke up the neighborhood when he saw this sign at 3 a.m.
Photo by Rick, taken on a cellphone in 2005.

Last I saw of the Red Elvises, Igor was saying something about stopping at a gas station to buy some food (probably potato chips)...

-Rick Vaughn
Chicago, IL

Zhenya in Chicago. Photo by Kenneth Karp, Gremlen Studios. Taken in Chicago, IL on April 11, 2001

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Men emerge from Mars experiment

Six European volunteers have emerged from a simulated space capsule in Moscow after spending more than three months locked inside.

They were part of an experiment into how astronauts might deal with the very cramped conditions and prolonged isolation of a journey to Mars.

The four Russians, a German and a Frenchman seemed none the worse for wear after their "trip".

The capsule, without windows, had never left the ground during the 105 days.

It was designed to make them feel as isolated as they would be on a real trip to Mars, including very cramped accommodation and radio communication delayed by up to 20 minutes.

Just before coming out on Tuesday, the German member of the group admitted that he had completely lost all track of time.

However, 105 days is not nearly long enough to get to Mars and back.

So next year another group of volunteers will enter the same cramped capsule and be sealed inside for a daunting 520 days - nearly a year and a half.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Separated at birth: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mike Myers, and Andy Kaufman

Part One: Brüno VS. Dieter

Left to right, Dieter &

Brüno (Sacha Baron Cohen, "Brüno", 2009)

Brüno is a fictional gay Austrian fashion reporter, who first appeared during short sketches on The Paramount Comedy Channel in 1998, before reappearing on Da Ali G Show. Following the success of Ali G Indahouse and Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Universal Studios acquired the rights to make a Brüno film.

Brüno, who has no known surname, is a homosexual character claiming to be a reporter from an Austrian television station and interviews unsuspecting guests about topics such as fashion, entertainment, celebrities and homosexuality, with an emphasis on the last subject as each interview progresses. The Austrian TV station's logo features the letters ÖJRF (revealed once as Österreichischer Jungen-Rundfunk, or in English, Austrian Boys' Broadcasting) inside a baby blue square, with a smaller purple square in the upper left quadrant. The name is similar to that of Austrian national broadcaster ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk). The logo often appears on Brüno's show in the upper right corner of the screen. Brüno's segment on Da Ali G Show is called Funkyzeit mit Brüno (Funkytime with Brüno). The show's theme song is "Crank It Up", by Scooter, from the album Our Happy Hardcore.

Dieter (Mike Myers, Saturday Night Live, 1989-1997)

Sprockets was a recurring fictional West German television talk show sketch created by actor, writer and comedian Mike Myers with Canadian actor Dana Anderson for Second City Theatre. He later ported the character to television for the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. Myers played Dieter (based on a waiter Myers encountered in Toronto), a bored, disaffected West German expressionist and minimalist who would interview celebrities in whom he was barely interested and always bring the discussion around to his "limited" monkey Klaus. The sketch made fun of German art culture in the 1980s. Appearing asexual or effeminate, Myers' costume consisted of tight black leotards; round, wire-rimmed glasses, and slicked-back hair. The show itself featured, most notably, a section entitled "Germany's Most Disturbing Home Videos," which showcased scenes of old men's heads spinning around, dying cats, ants, and other disturbing sights.

The theme song for the sketch is Kraftwerk's 1986 song "Electric Café", sped up by playing the 33⅓ rpm album at 45 rpm, then remixed.

Three memorable phrases from the sketch that are well known by fans were "Touch my monkey", a recurring reference to his pet monkey, Klaus (to touch him was a privilege); "Your narrative has become tiresome" whenever Dieter became bored with a guest; and "Now is the time on Sprockets vhen ve dance!", which was always uttered frantically at the end of the show and followed by some robotic techno-dancing on the set.

Some later sketches featured Dieter outside of his talk show environment starring in parodies of game shows, TV dance parties, and art films.

Part Two: Borat VS. Latka

Left to right, Latka & Borat

Borat Sagdiyev (Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat", 2006)

Borat claims to have been born on February 17, 1972 in the fictional village of Kuzcek, Kazakhstan to Asimbala Sagdiyev and Boltok the Rapist, the town rapist (who is also stated to be his maternal grandfather as well as his brother and uncle). He says his mother gave birth to him when she was nine years old. He has a thirteen-year-old son named Huey Lewis, twelve-year-old twin boys named Biram and Bilak, and seventeen grandchildren. He has an older sister, Natalya (who he has claimed at different times to be "the number four best prostitute in Kazakhstan") and a younger brother, Bilo, he describes as being mentally retarded and has a very small head but strong arms.

Borat has been married approximately 138 times[citation needed], after first having been betrothed to his half-sister's plough while in his teens. His first wife, Oksana, is reported in the Borat film to have been "broken" by a bear while taking his brother Bilo for a walk in the forest. Borat is not saddened by the tragedy; he thanks the man who brings him this "good news" by giving him a high five and celebrates his newfound freedom by pursuing Pamela Anderson and eventually reunites with and marries Luenell, an American prostitute he met while filming his documentary.

According to various in-character interviews with Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat attended Astana University, where he studied English, journalism, and plague research. He claims to have created five new plagues which supposedly "killed over 5 million goats and whores in Uzbekistan." Prior to his plague research, Borat worked as an ice maker, animal sperm retriever, gypsy catcher, and someone who removes dead birds from a computer. He now works as a professional journalist and announcer on Kazakh television. This job "helps Borat and other Kazakhs express themselves in ways they otherwise would not have been able to do."

Although nominally pagan for most of his life, sometimes remarking that his people "follow the hawk", in the film he attends a Pentecostal church service and later converts his village neighbours to Christianity. Borat greatly admires the political views of Joseph Stalin, and claims that both he and Stalin are strong men with powerful "khram" (genitals). He is strongly against women's rights and was quite aghast upon learning of women's suffrage. He frequently comments that it is like "a monkey driving a car" or "a monkey with a gun". In his spare time, he enjoys playing ping pong, sunbathing while clad in a lime green "mankini", disco dancing, spitting, sitting on comfortable chairs, and taking pictures of women while they "make toilet". He also enjoys hunting Jews in his homeland. He is particularly fond of "mouth-party" and "hand-party", and is inconsolably angry after a group of travelling American fratboys show him the sex tape of Pamela Anderson, having wished to "un-cork her" for himself.

Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman, "Taxi", 1978-1983)

Latka Gravas is an immigrant from an island in the Caspian Sea. ( sank) He often speaks in his native language which consists of phrases such as "Yaktahbay" (Behind/Butt) and "nik nik" (sex). (Kaufman invented his own nonsensical language for Latka.) He works as a mechanic for the Sunshine Cab Company. He is very friendly and has a shy, child-like demeanor. He often says "Tenk you veddy much". His sweet personality makes him a favorite target of his loud, abrasive boss, Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito). The cabdrivers like Latka but are confused by his customs.

Latka also has multiple personality disorder. Being very love-shy, Latka wanted to fulfill his fantasy of being “an American fun guy taking each day in high gear". He studied Playboy and the voices of FM DJs. Latka developed an alter ego named "Vic Ferrari", a smooth-talking womanizer.

In one episode, he develops numerous personalities in addition to Vic including a cowboy named Arlo and an Englishman named Jeffrey. He ends up taking on his co-worker Alex Reiger's (Judd Hirsch) personality, with profound insights into "his" life. Just when he is about to reveal to the real Alex the perfect solution for all his problems, he reverts back to Latka with the help of a psychiatrist.

Facing deportation, the cabdrivers hire a prostitute to marry Latka so he can stay in the United States. It is assumed that they were soon divorced.

In the second season, Latka meets Simka (Carol Kane), a woman from his homeland. Despite coming from different classes - she is a "mountain person" and he is a "flatlander" - they fall in love. At the end of the episode Simka has to return to the homeland, but Simka returns in the fourth season and they rekindle their romance, finally ridding Latka of his Vic Ferrari alter ego. They get married at the end of the season.

(info from Wikipedia)

Recent visitors to my blog....

I just thought this was interesting information; I am always fascinated with new technology and it's ability to track visitors to my humble blog from all known corners of the globe. A recent sampling of the most recent 200+ visitors lately:

  • 212 Den Helder Netherlands
  • 10 San Diego United States
  • 10 Las Vegas United States
  • 9 The Entrance Australia
  • 8 Naperville United States
  • 8 Saipan Northern Mariana Islands
  • 8 Seoul Korea, Republic Of
  • 4 Alexandria United States
  • 3 Mountain View United States
  • 3 Gulf Shores United States
  • 3 Victoria Canada
  • 3 Vancouver Canada
  • 3 Algeria Algeria
  • 3 Hagatna Guam
  • 3 Bradenton United States
  • 2 Moscow Russian Federation
  • 2 Chicago United States
  • 2 Arlington United States
  • 2 Los Angeles United States
  • 2 Taipei Taiwan
  • 1 Barrigada Guam
  • 1 Hvalsø Denmark
  • 1 Cartagena Spain
  • 1 Kirkland United States
  • 1 Berkeley United States
  • 1 Pittston United States
  • 1 Lake Elsinore United States
  • 1 Tinian Northern Mariana Islands
  • 1 Redondo Beach United States
  • 1 Sumter United States
  • 1 Castries Saint Lucia
  • 1 Denver United States
  • 1 Yokohama Japan
  • 1 San Francisco United States
  • 1 Norwalk United States
  • 1 Hamamatsu Japan
  • 1 Shreveport United States
  • 1 Hille Germany
  • 1 Falls Church United States
  • 1 Monaco Italy
  • 1 Markham Canada
  • 1 Miami United States
  • 1 Yigo Guam
  • 1 Chino United States
  • 1 Monterey Park United States

Hmmmm.... 212 from Den Helder, in the Netherlands? I only know one person there, could she really be visiting my blog that many times? Or maybe I am somewhat of a celebrity there... who knows?